STYLE.COM: Fashion Forward: How Two New Yorkers are Champion African Design by Jorge Grimberg

“We are excited about Africa today, before, and for our future,” said Abrima Erwiah, the cofounder of Studio One Eighty Nine, a collective of creatives that seeks to provide a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content through creative projects. “Our focus is on using fashion as an agent of social change, since we have seen so many women and girls in developing countries able to lift themselves out of adverse situations and build sustainable livings through craft, fashion, beauty, art, and music,” said Abrima.

The other half of Studio One Eighty Nine is beautiful actress Rosario Dawson. “We are currently working on developing an ethical fashion collection called Fashion Rising, based out of Accra in Ghana,” said Rosario. Fashion Rising is an artisan-produced fashion collection launched in support of V-Day’s One Billion Rising, working to stop violence against women and empower females by building sustainable fashion and artisanal businesses.

Abrima is a well-educated (she has bachelor’s degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business) and extremely passionate New Yorker who left a dream job at Bottega Veneta (where she was in global marketing and communications for ten years) to pursue a personal dream: to develop and advance African fashion and luxury markets while fighting injustice against women. “We focus on education, empowerment, and creating economic opportunities for the artisans and creatives who we work with. I owe this to my aunt Naomi Sims, who was the first black supermodel who challenged the status quo in the sixties, a time when her image was initially widely rejected. She taught me that fashion can make a change, and I hope to be able to help others and create opportunities for them as well. Our dream, ten years from now, is to be the world’s leading source for African artisanal and luxury products, and to see this translate into more jobs, education, and global recognition of African creative talent. I have been very blessed by the opportunities that I have received.”

Yes, my dear Abrima, you are blessed.